Twenty-six Togolese lecturers/researchers and PhD students gained new skills in the econometric analysis of commodity-related issues during the first Vi professional development workshop organized for core member, the Université de Lomé, February 8-12.
Funded by Government of Finland and hosted by the university's Faculty of Economics and Management, the training also attracted participants from the Université de Kara, the ministry of economy and finance, the ministry of trade, industry, private sector promotion and tourism, and the Central Bank of West African States.
Janvier Nkurunziza, of UNCTAD's Special Unit on Commodities, delivered the workshop, whose objective was to provide participants with the empirical tools needed to analyze commodity-related issues, and thus strengthen their capacity to design better informed economic policies in this area.

After setting the framework for the technical training by explaining how to design and implement an economic analysis policy research project, Nkurunziza introduced participants to the main properties of econometric models. During the next four days, the workshop’s focus shifted to methodologies related to time series analysis and panel data. All sessions included hands-on practical exercises using the Stata statistical software and data from Nkurunziza's research.

“We reviewed approaches to the analysis of the integration of commodities actors in international trade,” said one participant. “Case studies analyzing Togo’s cotton market, cocoa in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, and the example of the evolution of oil prices were very instructive,” added another.

All participants reported that the workshop had added to their knowledge to the topic, and that they planned to apply their new knowledge to their studies, teaching, research and work with policymakers. Two specific research projects mentioned aimed to analyze the integration of cotton, coffee and cocoa producers into world markets, and ICTs and enterprise productivity in Togo.

“The trainer has an extraordinary ability to impart knowledge,” said one participant. “Things that required methodical demonstrations were transmitted with very simple examples, which allowed us to understand complicated concepts. The course was very interactive and the subjects were well explained.”

Although feedback indicates that the training accomplished its objectives, the majority of participants requested that the training be extended to at least two weeks, and that more workshops on the topic be offered regularly.